Silence Flowing Like a Stream
From Paul Brunton’s, Search in Secret India
“Happiness is your nature.It is not wrong to desire it.What is wrong is seeking it outside, when it is inside.” ~ The Maharshi
“We shall now go in the hall of the Maharshi,” announces the holy man
of the yellow robe, bidding me to follow him. I pause outside the
uncovered stone veranda and remove my shoes. I gather up the little
pile of fruits which I have brought as an offering, and pass into an
open doorway. Twenty brown-and-black faces flash their eyes upon us.
Their owners are squatting in half-circles on a red-tiled floor. They
are grouped at a respectful distance from the corner which lies
farthest to the right hand of the door. Apparently everyone has been
facing this corner just prior to our entry. I glance there for a
moment and perceive a seated figure upon a long white divan, but it
suffices to tell me that here indeed is the Maharshi.
The divan is but a few paces away from a broad high window in the end
wall. The light falls clearly upon the Maharshi and I can take in
every detail of his profile, for he is seated gazing rigidly through
the window in the precise direction whence we have come this morning.
His head does not move, so, thinking to catch his eye and greet him as
I offer the fruits, I move quietly over to the window, place the gift
before him, and retreat a pace or two.
A small brass brazier stands before his couch. It is filled with
burning charcoal, and a pleasant odour tells me that some aromatic
powder has been thrown on the glowing embers. Close by is an incense
burner filled with joss sticks. Threads of bluish grey smoke arise and
float in the air. I fold a thin cotton blanket upon the floor and sit
down, gazing expectantly at the silent figure in such a rigid attitude
upon the couch. The Maharshi’s body is almost nude, except for a thin,
narrow loin-cloth, but that is common enough in these parts. His skin
is slightly copper-coloured, yet quite fair in comparison with that of
the average South Indian. I judge him to be a tall man; his age
somewhere in the early fifties. His head, which is covered with
closely cropped grey hair, is well formed. The high and broad expanse
of forehead gives intellectual distinction to his personality. His
features are more European than Indian. Such is my first impression.
Pin-drop silence prevails throughout the long hall. The sage remains
perfectly still, motionless, quite undisturbed at our arrival. I look
full into the eyes of the seated figure in the hope of catching his
notice. They are dark brown, medium-sized and wide open. If he is
aware of my presence, he betrays no hint, gives no sign. His body is
supernaturally quiet, as steady as a statue. Not once does he catch my
gaze, for his eyes continue to look into remote space, and infinitely
remote it seems.
It is an ancient theory of mine that one can take the inventory of a
man’s soul from his eyes. But before those of the Maharshi I hesitate,
puzzled and baffled.
The minutes creep by with unutterable slowness. First they mount up to
a half-hour by the hermitage clock which hangs on a wall; this too
passes by and becomes a whole hour. Yet no one in the hall seems to
stir; certainly no one dares to speak. I reach a point of visual
concentration where I have forgotten the existence of all save this
silent figure on the couch. My offering of fruits remains unregarded
on the small carved table which stands before him.
There is something in this man that holds my attention as steel
filings are held by a magnet. I cannot turn my gaze away from him. My
initial bewilderment, my perplexity at being totally ignored, slowly
fade away as this strange fascination begins to grip me more firmly.
But it is not till the second hour of the uncommon scene that I become
aware of a silent, resistless change which is taking place within my
mind. One by one, the questions which I have prepared in the train
with such meticulous accuracy drop away. For it does not now seem to
matter whether they are asked or not, and it does not seem to matter
whether I solve the problems which have hitherto troubled me. I know
only that a steady river of quietness seems to be flowing near me,
that a great peace is penetrating the inner reaches of my being, and
that my thought-tortured brain is beginning to arrive at some rest.
I surrender myself to the steadily deepening sense of restfulness
until two hours have passed. The passage of time now provokes no
irritation, because I feel that the chains of mind-made problems are
being broken and thrown away.
Comes the first ripple. Someone approaches me and whispers in my ear,
“Did you not wish to question the Maharshi?” The spell is broken. As
if this infelicitous intrusion is a signal, figures rise from the
floor and begin to move about the hall, voices float up to my hearing,
and-wonder of wonders!-the dark brown eyes of the Maharshi flicker
once or twice. Then the head turns, the face moves slowly, very
slowly, and bends downward at an angle. A few more moments, and it has
brought me into the ambit of its vision. For the first time the sage’s
mysterious gaze is directed upon me. It is plain that he has now
awakened from his long trance.
The intruder, thinking perhaps that my lack of response is a sign that
I have not heard him, repeats his question aloud. But in those
lustrous eyes which are gently staring at me, I read another question,
albeit unspoken. “Can it be – is it possible – that you are still
tormented with distracting doubts when you have now glimpsed the deep
mental peace which you – and all men – may attain?”
The peace overwhelms me. I turn to the guide and answer: “No. There is
nothing I care to ask now. Another time.”
This is such a beautiful story, I thought I would share it with you all.
The Sacred Hill – Arunachela
Paul Brunton (October 21, 1898 – July 27, 1981) was probably born as Hermann Hirsch of German Jewish origin. Later he changed his name to Raphael Hurst, and then Brunton Paul and finally Paul Brunton. He was a philosopher, mystic and a traveler. He left a journalistic career to live among yogis, mystics, and holy men, and studied Eastern and Western esoteric teachings. Dedicating his life to an inward and spiritual quest, Brunton felt charged to communicate his experiences about what he had learned in the East to others. His works had a major influence on the spread of Eastern yoga and mysticism to the West. Taking pains to express his thoughts in lay person’s terms, Brunton was able to present what he had learned from the Orient and from ancient tradition as a living wisdom. His writings express his view that meditation and the inward quest are not exclusively for monks and hermits, but will also support those living normal, active lives in the Western world.
true teaching is always an epiphany; sometimes a clap of thunder…but often only a whisper, easily missed”